Cyprus

   

Quality of Democracy

#32
Key Findings
With corruption control becoming an increasing concern, Cyprus receives a comparatively low overall score (rank 32) for democracy quality. Its score in this area has declined by 0.1 point relative to 2014.

Voting is no longer mandatory, and electoral-participation rates have declined, particularly in local elections. A number of recently passed laws regulate political-party financing, but donation and spending caps are high, and party-subsidy criteria remain opaque.

Policies combatting human trafficking and assisting victims have improved. Treatment of asylum-seekers and economic and irregular migrants has drawn criticism. The media is increasingly dependent on financial interests, undermining critical reporting. Parliament has passed a new law regulating access to government information.

Legal certainty is undermined by governmental and administrative delays in action, and by the frequency with which laws are judged unconstitutional. Court workloads make for very long case durations. The anti-corruption body is underfunded. Recent years have seen numerous officials convicted for corruption, but many were granted early release in 2018.

Electoral Processes

#37

How fair are procedures for registering candidates and parties?

10
 9

Legal regulations provide for a fair registration procedure for all elections; candidates and parties are not discriminated against.
 8
 7
 6


A few restrictions on election procedures discriminate against a small number of candidates and parties.
 5
 4
 3


Some unreasonable restrictions on election procedures exist that discriminate against many candidates and parties.
 2
 1

Discriminating registration procedures for elections are widespread and prevent a large number of potential candidates or parties from participating.
Candidacy Procedures
9
No change took place in 2018 to requirements for the registration of candidates; they are minimal and relate to citizenship, age, mental soundness and criminal record. Candidates for the presidency of the republic must belong to the Greek community. Citizens of other EU states have voting rights and are eligible to run for office in local elections. Since 2014, voting rights and the eligibility to run for office in European parliamentary elections are conditionally extended to Turkish Cypriots residing in areas not under the government’s effective control. Citizens of non-EU countries have no voting rights. Simultaneously holding a public office and/or a post in the public service and/or a ministerial portfolio and/or an elected office is constitutionally prohibited.

The eligibility age to run for president is 35 and 25 for a member of parliament. The eligibility age for municipal and community councils, and the European Parliament was reduced from 25 to 21 years-old (2013). Candidate registration procedures are clearly defined, reasonable and open to media and public review. Candidacies must be proposed and supported by registered voters: the required number is two for local elections, four for parliamentary elections, and, since 2016, one voter proposing and 100 supporting a candidacy for presidential elections.

A financial deposit is also required from candidates running for office, ranging from €85 (community elections) to €2,000 for presidential elections. This sum is returned to candidates who meet vote thresholds specific to each election type.

Citations:
1. The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, http://www.presidency.gov.cy/presidency/presidency.nsf/all/1003AEDD83EED9C7C225756F0023C6AD/$file/CY_Constitution.pdf
2. The Law on the Election of the members of the House of Representatives, L.72/1979, in Greek, http://www.cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non-ind/1979_1_72/full.html
3. The Municipalities Law, 11/1985, unofficial English translation available at, http://www.ucm.org.cy/DocumentStrea m.aspx?ObjectID=966
4. The Communities Law, 86(I)/1999, available in Greek at, http://www.cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non-ind/1999_1_86/full.html
5. The Law on the Election of Members of the European Parliament 10(I)/2004, available in Greek at http://www.cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non-ind/2004_1_10/full.html

To what extent do candidates and parties have fair access to the media and other means of communication?

10
 9

All candidates and parties have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. All major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of the range of different political positions.
 8
 7
 6


Candidates and parties have largely equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. The major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of different political positions.
 5
 4
 3


Candidates and parties often do not have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. While the major media outlets represent a partisan political bias, the media system as a whole provides fair coverage of different political positions.
 2
 1

Candidates and parties lack equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communications. The major media outlets are biased in favor of certain political groups or views and discriminate against others.
Media Access
7
Parties’ and candidates’ media access is only regulated for radio and television. Though not under any legal obligation, almost all newspapers and their online editions offer coverage to all parties and candidates.

The Law on Radio and Television 7(I)/1998, governing commercial audiovisual media services (AVMS), requires equitable and non-discriminatory treatment. The law governing the public-service broadcaster (Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, RIK) refers to the equitable treatment of political actors, while regulations provide for specific coverage. Equity must be respected, particularly during the pre-election period. However, the laws define the “pre-election period” with varying durations. Airtime must be allotted in accordance with a political party’s share of parliamentary seats and the extent of its territorial organization.

Broadcasters are required to comply with an in-house code of coverage. Monitoring of commercial broadcasters is performed by the Cyprus Radio Television Authority (CRTA), which also produces an annual report on the remit of the public broadcaster. Codes of conduct have almost never been publicly available, which renders scrutiny of compliance impossible. Rare special reports offer little insight for scrutiny. Paid political advertising on broadcast media is allowed during the 40 days preceding elections, on equal terms for all, without discrimination.

It appears that there is compliance with the rules on media access, with smaller parties enjoying proportionally more media time. However, the absence of publicly available codes of conduct negatively affects our evaluation. Finally, an issue of concern is the apparent lower level of media access and visibility accorded to female candidates.

Citations:
1. The Law on Radio and Television Stations, L. 7(I)/1998, in English, available at http://crta.org.cy/images/users/1/FINAL%20CONSOLIDATED%20LAW%2016.3.17.pdf
2. Report on RIK, public broadcaster for 2016, CRTA [Unpublished report].
3. Regulations on fair treatment of parties and candidates, Normative Administrative Acts (NAA) 193/2006 available at http://www.cylaw.org/nomothesia/par _3/meros_1/2006/1641.pdf (in Greek), and NAA 207/2009 (on European Parliament Elections), available at http://www.cylaw.org/nomothesia/par _3/meros_1/2009/1087.pdf (in Greek).

To what extent do all citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right of participation in national elections?

10
 9

All adult citizens can participate in national elections. All eligible voters are registered if they wish to be. There are no discriminations observable in the exercise of the right to vote. There are no disincentives to voting.
 8
 7
 6


The procedures for the registration of voters and voting are for the most part effective, impartial and nondiscriminatory. Citizens can appeal to courts if they feel being discriminated. Disincentives to voting generally do not constitute genuine obstacles.
 5
 4
 3


While the procedures for the registration of voters and voting are de jure non-discriminatory, isolated cases of discrimination occur in practice. For some citizens, disincentives to voting constitute significant obstacles.
 2
 1

The procedures for the registration of voters or voting have systemic discriminatory effects. De facto, a substantial number of adult citizens are excluded from national elections.
Voting and Registration Rights
8
Voting ceased to be mandatory in 2017, though voter registration remains mandatory. Various amendments have aimed to facilitate registration and participation. No means of e-voting or proxy voting exist. The voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1996. Special arrangements enable prisoners and other groups to exercise their rights. In some cases, the enrollment of displaced voters in polling stations at some distance from their actual residence seems to favor abstention. Overseas voting has been possible since 2011 in a limited number of cities in Europe and the United States. Extension of voting rights in European parliamentary elections to all Turkish Cypriots since 2014 may need additional measures in order to encourage participation.

Voter registration by young citizens remains very low (20-25% of those eligible) since the early 2000s. Additionally, abstention rates have risen sharply, ranging from 28% in presidential elections to more than 50% in local elections.

An OSCE report praised the way and the “competitive and pluralistic environment” in which the 2018 presidential elections were conducted. It also includes recommendations for addressing issues related to party and candidate financing.

Citations:
1. Turkish Cypriots and Right to vote, http://cyprus-mail.com/2014/05/27/turkish-cypriots-will-resort-to-court-over-voting-foul-up.
2. OSCE/ODIHR Cyprus, Presidential Election, 28 January and 4 February 2018, Final Report 2 May 2018, available at, https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/cyprus/379225?download=true

To what extent is private and public party financing and electoral campaign financing transparent, effectively monitored and in case of infringement of rules subject to proportionate and dissuasive sanction?

10
 9

The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring to that respect. Effective measures to prevent evasion are effectively in place and infringements subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
 8
 7
 6


The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring. Although infringements are subject to proportionate sanctions, some, although few, loopholes and options for circumvention still exist.
 5
 4
 3


The state provides that donations to political parties shall be published. Party financing is subject to some degree of independent monitoring but monitoring either proves regularly ineffective or proportionate sanctions in case of infringement do not follow.
 2
 1

The rules for party and campaign financing do not effectively enforce the obligation to make the donations public. Party and campaign financing is neither monitored independently nor, in case of infringements, subject to proportionate sanctions.
Party Financing
3
State funding of political parties and affiliated organizations was established in 1989. The most recent amendment of the law in November 2015, in response to GRECO and other organizations’ recommendations, sought to regulate private funding and fight corruption. Financial or other donations up to €50,000 are allowed; the list of donors must be published, except for sums below €500. All party and candidate accounts, including election-related (i.e., income, expenditure, assets and debts), must be audited annually by the auditor general, forwarded to him by the director general of the Interior Ministry (registrar for political parties). Parliamentary candidates have an electoral expenditure cap of €30,000; for candidates for the presidency the ceiling is €1 million. The law lists activities that would constitute corruption and must be avoided by candidates. Non-compliance and corruption are subject to fines and/or imprisonment, depending on the offense.

In its March 2016 report, GRECO noted that most of its recommendations were only partially implemented. Per party and candidate electoral accounts for 2016 were submitted and audited. In his report, the auditor general noted some problems that limit the scope and efficiency of control; among others, the lack of legal obligation in the law for submitting payment documents as well as no clear definition of the term “personal expenses.” Omissions and discrepancies were also observed in accounts for the December 2016 local elections. Published accounts of presidential candidates in the 2018 election were met with skepticism.

The caps set for donations and per-candidate expenses seem excessively high given the small size of the electorate (550,000 voters) and the market. Also, both criteria and procedures for setting the level of annual or extraordinary state subsidies to political parties remain opaque. Despite these weaknesses, adopted regulatory measures constitute a positive step, though they do need improvement.

Citations:
1. Our View: Published campaign spending figures far removed from a full disclosure, Cyprus Mail, 4 June 2018 https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/04/06/view-published-campaign-spending-figures-far-removed-full-disclosure/
2. Council of Europe – GRECO, Fourth Evaluation Round, Cyprus, July 2016, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/evaluations/round4/Eval%20IV/GrecoEval4Rep(2016)7_Cyprus_EN.pdf

Do citizens have the opportunity to take binding political decisions when they want to do so?

10
 9

Citizens have the effective opportunity to actively propose and take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through popular initiatives and referendums. The set of eligible issues is extensive, and includes national, regional, and local issues.
 8
 7
 6


Citizens have the effective opportunity to take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through either popular initiatives or referendums. The set of eligible issues covers at least two levels of government.
 5
 4
 3


Citizens have the effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure. The set of eligible issues is limited to one level of government.
 2
 1

Citizens have no effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure.
Popular Decision-Making
2
The constitution makes no provision for referendums and does not grant citizens the right to make binding decisions. Law 206/1989 provides that the Council of Ministers can initiate such a procedure and ask the House of Representatives to decide on whether a referendum should be held. Citizens cannot petition to initiate such a process. The Interior Ministry must call and organize the vote. The only general referendum held to date took place in April 2004 and was focused on a United Nations plan for settling the Cyprus problem. A special law (L.74(I)/2004), enabled members of the Greek Cypriot community to vote. In that case, the outcome was binding. Referendums are also held when local communities wish to become municipalities.

In October 2018, a draft law on e-petitions was under discussion by a parliamentary committee.

Citations:
1. Law on organizing referendums, L. 206/1989, available in Greek at, http://www.cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non -ind/1989_1_206/full.html.

Access to Information

#29

To what extent are the media independent from government?

10
 9

Public and private media are independent from government influence; their independence is institutionally protected and fully respected by the incumbent government.
 8
 7
 6


The incumbent government largely respects the independence of media. However, there are occasional attempts to exert influence.
 5
 4
 3


The incumbent government seeks to ensure its political objectives indirectly by influencing the personnel policies, organizational framework or financial resources of public media, and/or the licensing regime/market access for private media.
 2
 1

Major media outlets are frequently influenced by the incumbent government promoting its partisan political objectives. To ensure pro-government media reporting, governmental actors exert direct political pressure and violate existing rules of media regulation or change them to benefit their interests.
Media Freedom
7
In general, the media do not suffer from direct governmental interference. There is, however, a tendency for media to be indulgent with the government of the day, a phenomenon that is more visible with the present government. Legal requirements for launching a publication are minimal. Provisions in the Press Law 145/1989 for the establishment of a Press Council and Press Authority have been inoperative since 1990 due to disagreements among media professionals on their composition. Media owners, publishers, and the Union of Journalists collectively signed a code of journalistic ethics in 1997 and established a complaints commission composed mostly of media professionals. Reporters Without Borders ranked Cyprus in 25th place out of 180 states in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

RIK, the public-service broadcaster, is a public-law entity governed by a board appointed by the Council of Ministers. Appointments to this body are often politically motivated and include party officials. Budgetary pressures imposed by the government and political parties, along with interference and public statements by parties arguing for “more equitable” access continue to hold the public broadcaster hostage to politicians. Despite this competition for influence, pluralism generally prevails.

A different law, incorporating the provisions of EU media directives, governs private audiovisual media services. Oversight is carried out by the Cyprus Radio Television Authority (CRTA), which also oversees RIK’s compliance with its public-service remit. The CRTA has extensive powers and a broadly independent status. No high-level party official can be a member or chairperson of the authority’s governing board, but appointments of its members by the Council of Ministers are often politically motivated rather than based on expertise or competence.

In September 2016, some appointees in government stepped down in the wake of comments made in the media that the recruitment of specific journalists at the presidential palace were aimed at winning the favor of political editors or media owners.

At a different level, the Attorney General’s constitutional powers to seize newspapers or printed matter constitutes a threat to the freedom of expression.

Citations:
1. Journalists wives turn down president’s job offer, Cyprus Mail, 10 September 2018, https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/09/10/journalists-wives-turn-down-presidents-job-offer/
2. Reporters without borders, Cyprus https://rsf.org/en/cyprus

To what extent are the media characterized by an ownership structure that ensures a pluralism of opinions?

10
 9

Diversified ownership structures characterize both the electronic and print media market, providing a well-balanced pluralism of opinions. Effective anti-monopoly policies and impartial, open public media guarantee a pluralism of opinions.
 8
 7
 6


Diversified ownership structures prevail in the electronic and print media market. Public media compensate for deficiencies or biases in private media reporting by representing a wider range of opinions.
 5
 4
 3


Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize either the electronic or the print media market. Important opinions are represented but there are no or only weak institutional guarantees against the predominance of certain opinions.
 2
 1

Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize both the electronic and the print media market. Few companies dominate the media, most programs are biased, and there is evidence that certain opinions are not published or are marginalized.
Media Pluralism
7
In recent years, media companies have grown in size, extending their hold on the press and broadcasting (mainly radio) sector, and operating internet news portals. An increased dependency on financial interests has also been evident, even in content, which has inevitably also led to less critical reporting. Strict ownership rules are enforced on radio and television, with a threshold of 25% on capital share, disallowing cross-media conglomerates. However, very limited ownership data are publicly available. To assist print media companies that faced serious challenges, with some publications closed down, the government promoted in 2017 a scheme of de minimis financial grants.

The Cyprus problem remained a dominant subject also in 2018 and continued to also underpin polarized media positions on other issues. A glossary for the coverage of the Cyprus problem, compiled under the auspices of OSCE, produced very strong reactions from journalists. Other themes, including the Cooperative Bank default, instances of corruption in the public domain, explorations for hydrocarbons, and a crisis between the government and teachers unions, also made the headlines. Issues of social concern such as multiculturalism and the need for transparency and quality governance occupied less space in 2018 than in previous years. The absence of analytical reporting, combined with advocacy journalism remain major challenges and constrain pluralism in society.

The government and mainstream actors largely monopolized media access, limiting the spectrum of themes covered and the viewpoints expressed. A focus on partisan confrontations, polarization and blame games led to critical problems rarely being discussed in a meaningful manner.

Citations:
1. Media Pluralism Monitor Cyprus, 2016 http://cmpf.eui.eu/media-pluralism-monitor/mpm-2016-results/cyprus/
2. Our View: Journalists making absurd claims over glossary, Cyprus Mail, 7 August 2018, https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/08/07/our-view-journalists-making-absurd-claims-over-glossary/

To what extent can citizens obtain official information?

10
 9

Legal regulations guarantee free and easy access to official information, contain few, reasonable restrictions, and there are effective mechanisms of appeal and oversight enabling citizens to access information.
 8
 7
 6


Access to official information is regulated by law. Most restrictions are justified, but access is sometimes complicated by bureaucratic procedures. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms permit citizens to enforce their right of access.
 5
 4
 3


Access to official information is partially regulated by law, but complicated by bureaucratic procedures and some poorly justified restrictions. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms are often ineffective.
 2
 1

Access to official information is not regulated by law; there are many restrictions of access, bureaucratic procedures and no or ineffective mechanisms of enforcement.
Access to Government Information
4
In December 2017, the parliament approved a law “to regulate the right of access to information in the public service.” The law aimed at creating a comprehensive framework that would, among others, solve challenges with existing rules. References to the right to information are found in the constitutional clause on free expression (Article 19) and in laws on personal-data processing, access to environmental data, the reuse of public sector information, the public service, the press, and others. Article 67 of the Law on Public Service (L. 1/1990) prohibits the disclosure without authorization of any information that comes to the knowledge of employees during the exercise of their duties. The absence of coherent legislation has resulted in contradictory policies from government officials, which ultimately is limiting transparency and constraining citizens’ rights.

Some of the aforementioned laws provide for mechanisms for administrative appeal in connection with the reuse of public sector information, environmental information and data protection. Recourse to an independent authority, the Commissioner for Data Protection, is also possible for relevant issues. Another option is recourse to the courts.

The adoption of the 2017 law is a positive step. A full evaluation will be possible in our next report as article 55 provides for the law’s entry into force one year after its publication in the official gazette (i.e., late December 2018).

Citations:
1. Press report, NGO calls for FOI fees to be axed, http://cyprus-mail.com/2017/02/18/ngo-calls-foi-fees-axed/
2. The Law to regulate access to information in the public service, L. 184(I)/2017, in Greek, http://cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non-ind/2017_1_184/full.html

Civil Rights and Political Liberties

#19

To what extent does the state respect and protect civil rights and how effectively are citizens protected by courts against infringements of their rights?

10
 9

All state institutions respect and effectively protect civil rights. Citizens are effectively protected by courts against infringements of their rights. Infringements present an extreme exception.
 8
 7
 6


The state respects and protects rights, with few infringements. Courts provide protection.
 5
 4
 3


Despite formal protection, frequent infringements of civil rights occur and court protection often proves ineffective.
 2
 1

State institutions respect civil rights only formally, and civil rights are frequently violated. Court protection is not effective.
Civil Rights
7
Cyprus’s constitution and laws guarantee and protect the civil rights of all residents, both citizens of the republic or others. However, many problem areas exist. They relate to the treatment of asylum-seekers and economic and irregular migrants, forced labor, overcrowding in prisons – where some improvement was noted – and other issues. Compliance with European and international rules and standards remains deficient. On human trafficking, the U.S. Department of State placed Cyprus again onto Tier One, as authorities improved services providing for the protection of victims and conviction of traffickers.

The latest available report by the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) committee noted a rise in labor exploitation. Despite a new policy framework and an EU harmonization law (2014), problems persisted. Detention conditions, services and support provided to detainees are problematic in many respects according to a study and an Ombudsman’s report (2018). Among others, asylum-seekers face constraints in seeking employment as well as exploitation; the latter also faces migrant workers. Despite various measures by authorities that aim to eliminate labor exploitation, including severe penalties for offenders, the results remain unsatisfactory. Actions by NGOs appear to slightly mitigate deficient action and sub-optimal services by authorities, but despite the resilience of NGOs it remains an uphill struggle. Society’s perceived complacency further shows signs of positive change on some issues.

Though some progress may be noted, this is slow and points to the need for more proactive and sustained measures to support vulnerable groups. However, beyond the urgency of adopting new policies and forms of assistance, testimonies highlight the need for changing the culture of both the society and authorities toward migrants, irregular migrants, and asylum-seekers. The fact that almost one in two non-EU citizens is at risk of poverty or social exclusion as well as the decline of foreign labor in recent years point to the vulnerability of these groups.

Citations:
1. USA State Department Report on Human Rights, Cyprus -Released 2018, https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/277397.pdf
2. CoE GRETA report on Human Trafficking, 2015, https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=0900001680631b96
3. UNHCR Cyprus & University of Nicosia, The Living Conditions of Asylum-Seekers in Cyprus, 2018 http://www.unhcr.org/cy/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2018/05/LivingConditionsofAsylumSeekersReport.pdf

To what extent does the state concede and protect political liberties?

10
 9

All state institutions concede and effectively protect political liberties.
 8
 7
 6


All state institutions for the most part concede and protect political liberties. There are only few infringements.
 5
 4
 3


State institutions concede political liberties but infringements occur regularly in practice.
 2
 1

Political liberties are unsatisfactory codified and frequently violated.
Political Liberties
7
Political liberties and the protection of fundamental human rights are enshrined in the constitution and protected by law. NGOs and other associations flourish in Cyprus. New media multiplied available channels for petitions, protests and rallies. The interference of Christian Orthodox religion in schools is a source of pressure on minorities to attend religious ceremonies. Also, isolated complaints are reported on the state of places of worship and interferences with freedom of religion and worship rights.

Strong professional associations and trade unions continue to enjoy easier access to public authorities than weak groups such as immigrants. The latter often require assistance from NGOs to make their requests public.

Though a Supreme Court decision in 2016 considered the seizure of personal computers in a libel case as disproportionate, this practice continues as part of investigations. This raises serious concerns as no legal framework ensures that the handling of data on seized computers will follow procedures that respect the owner’s fundamental rights.

Libel was decriminalized in 2003 and courts in Cyprus apply European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case-law to free expression. However, the number of libel cases remains high as does the number of threats to sue for libel/defamation by both public figures and businesses. This threatens media’s capacity to scrutinize public life and serve as society’s watchdog.

Our overall evaluation takes into account the negative effect on citizens’ liberties of the clientelist system, which continues to undermine individual fundamental rights.

Citations:
1. Department of State Report on Religious Freedoms, Cyprus (released 2018) https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2017/eur/280894.htm
2. Government stuns by agreeing reversal of pay cuts with unions, Cyprus Mail, 1 June 2018, https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/06/01/government-stuns-by-agreeing-reversal-of-pay-cuts-with-unions/

How effectively does the state protect against different forms of discrimination?

10
 9

State institutions effectively protect against and actively prevent discrimination. Cases of discrimination are extremely rare.
 8
 7
 6


State anti-discrimination protections are moderately successful. Few cases of discrimination are observed.
 5
 4
 3


State anti-discrimination efforts show limited success. Many cases of discrimination can be observed.
 2
 1

The state does not offer effective protection against discrimination. Discrimination is widespread in the public sector and in society.
Non-discrimination
8
An extensive body of laws and measures aims to protect the rights of all persons and to prevent discrimination. Article 18 of the constitution guarantees equality and non-discrimination for all. It explicitly prohibits discrimination based on factors such as gender, race or religion, while specific laws proactively protect the rights of minority groups in various ways. However, implementation gaps and omissions exist in practice and incidents of discrimination do take place.

In line with relevant EU directives, laws on gender equality and against discrimination provide for proactive measures. They enforce equal treatment in employment, occupations and training. However, inequalities are present, while combating racism and other forms of discrimination and protecting persons with disabilities remains an unattained goal. Disabled persons are, however, offered additional protection and special treatment.

Among the positive steps taken in recent years were the adoption, in late 2015, of a law on civil partnerships and the recognition of a right to parental leave in 2017.

The Ombuds office, tasked with protecting against discrimination, issued three reports on complaints in 2018. In a 2016 resolution, the minorities committee of the Council of Europe recommended, among others, that Cyprus take measures to protect minorities’ rights and enable minority groups the right to self-identification and promotion of their language as well as the participation of constitutionally recognized “religious groups” in decision-making.

Citations:
1. Reports -decisions of the Ombudsman as Authority against Racism and Discrimination 2018, (in Greek) http://www.ombudsman.gov.cy/ombudsman/ombudsman.nsf/index_new/index_new?OpenForm
2. CoE committee on minorities, Resolution on Cyprus 2016, https://search.coe.int/cm/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectId=090000168064ecd7

Rule of Law

#30

To what extent do government and administration act on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions to provide legal certainty?

10
 9

Government and administration act predictably, on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions. Legal regulations are consistent and transparent, ensuring legal certainty.
 8
 7
 6


Government and administration rarely make unpredictable decisions. Legal regulations are consistent, but leave a large scope of discretion to the government or administration.
 5
 4
 3


Government and administration sometimes make unpredictable decisions that go beyond given legal bases or do not conform to existing legal regulations. Some legal regulations are inconsistent and contradictory.
 2
 1

Government and administration often make unpredictable decisions that lack a legal basis or ignore existing legal regulations. Legal regulations are inconsistent, full of loopholes and contradict each other.
Legal Certainty
5
The sound foundations of the state apparatus have been weakened over the years, with an impact on adherence to the law. More serious are the effects of the collapse of bi-communality in 1964. The law of exception leaves a very strong executive and some independent officials with powers subject to very little or no control.

The legal soundness of some laws and policies to face the crisis are frequently contested. There are also frequent incidents where laws passed by the parliament are judged unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Action on important matters is either delayed or has the character of semi-measures that are inefficient or unjust. Long overdue action on non-performing loans is promoted by the government plan ESTIA, which the European Commission and ECB warn of “moral hazard risks and fairness issues.”

Thus, delays and actions inconsistent with the rule of law persisted in 2018. Clashes with the auditor general and attorney general also continued. Specific practices resulted in undermining meritocracy, administrative efficiency and consistent law enforcement.

Citations:
EU green light expected for contentious bad loan payback scheme, Cyprus Mail, 29 October 2018, https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/10/29/eu-green-light-expected-for-contentious-bad-loan-payback-scheme/

To what extent do independent courts control whether government and administration act in conformity with the law?

10
 9

Independent courts effectively review executive action and ensure that the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 8
 7
 6


Independent courts usually manage to control whether the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 5
 4
 3


Courts are independent, but often fail to ensure legal compliance.
 2
 1

Courts are biased for or against the incumbent government and lack effective control.
Judicial Review
8
The operation of the Administrative Court in 2016 marked a positive step in the administration of justice; it alleviated the workload of the Supreme Court. This, however, had limited effect on lengthy court procedures. A functional review of courts found that some cases take up to 9.5 years. The study found serious problems in management and leadership, in institutional structures, and in procedures, processes, and infrastructure to support the efficient operation of the courts.

The government has various plans to resolve existing challenges. However, at present, judicial review is very problematic.

Judicial review of decisions by trial courts, administrative bodies or other authorities can be sought before the administrative and (appellate) Supreme Court. Appeals are decided by panels of three or five judges, with highly important cases requiring a full quorum (13 judges).

Citations:
1. Functional review of the Court system of Cyprus, http://www.supremecourt.gov.cy/Judicial/SC.nsf/All/4FAD54FDA1155764C225825F003DC397?OpenDocument

To what extent does the process of appointing (supreme or constitutional court) justices guarantee the independence of the judiciary?

10
 9

Justices are appointed in a cooperative appointment process with special majority requirements.
 8
 7
 6


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies with special majority requirements or in a cooperative selection process without special majority requirements.
 5
 4
 3


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies without special majority requirements.
 2
 1

All judges are appointed exclusively by a single body irrespective of other institutions.
Appointment of Justices
7
The judicial system essentially functions on the basis of the 1960 constitution, albeit with modifications to reflect the circumstances prevailing after the collapse of bi-communal government in 1964. The Supreme Council of Judicature (SCJ), composed of all 13 judges of the Supreme Court, appoints, promotes and places justices, except those of the Supreme Court. The latter are appointed by the president of the republic upon the recommendation of the Supreme Court. By tradition, nominees are drawn from the ranks of the judiciary. A 2016 GRECO report recommended broader participation in SCJ to include judges of trial courts. It also recommended more transparency regarding the procedure and criteria for the selection of judges. GRECO noted in 2018 that its recommendations were only partly implemented.

The gender ratio within the judiciary as a whole is approximately 60% male to 40% female. Five of the 13 Supreme Court justices and five of the seven administrative court justices are female.

Citations:
Council of Europe, GRECO fourth evaluation round, published September 2018, https://rm.coe.int/fourth-evaluation-round-corruption-prevention-in-respect-of-members-of/16808d267b

To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?

10
 9

Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 8
 7
 6


Most integrity mechanisms function effectively and provide disincentives for public officeholders willing to abuse their positions.
 5
 4
 3


Some integrity mechanisms function, but do not effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 2
 1

Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity.
Corruption Prevention
3
The auditor general’s office is constitutionally independent and assigned to audit the accounts of all state entities. The auditor general’s findings have been very often ignored. However, numerous cases of corruption since 2014 have resulted in the conviction of officials for corruption. Various policies are designed and promoted to serve transparency and fight corruption. However, the pace is slow.

GRECO observed in 2018 that only two out of 16 anti-corruption measures it recommended in 2016 were implemented, with a further eight partly implemented and six not implemented at all. In addition, measures adopted under previous reports, such as in party financing, have loopholes and deficient mechanisms that seriously affect their efficiency.

In 2018, the European Commission repeated its observation that the existing authority against corruption is inadequately resourced. We note also that no evaluation report is available on the implementation of public service and ministers codes of conduct established years ago.

Efforts against corruption suffered a serious blow in 2018 when most of the officials incarcerated for corruption were freed before completing even half of their sentences. Also, the citizenship-by-investment scheme is increasing the risk for corruption. These challenges explanation why corruption and impunity is perceived by the public as extremely high.

Citations:
1. Council of Europe, GRECO, Fourth Round Evaluation Report, Cyprus, 2018 https://rm.coe.int/fourth-evaluation-round-corruption-prevention-in-respect-of-members-of/16808d267b
2. Contractor corruption watchdog unable to carry out duties, Cyprus Mail, 10 May 2018, https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/05/10/contractor-corruption-watchdog-unable-to-carry-out-duties/
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